The total number of expatriates worldwide amounted to around 50.5 million in 2013 a compound annual growth rate of 2.4% since 2009, given that there were around 46.0 million expatriates in that year.
By 2017, Finaccord, the international market research and consulting company, specializing in financial services, forecasts that the number will reach around 56.8 million.
The relative size of the expatriate population within the total worldwide immigrant population, as defined by the UN, also grew from 21.2% in 2009 to 21.8% in 2013, and is predicted to increase further to 23.4% by 2017.
"Global mobility has increased significantly over the past decade and expatriates constitute a large and diverse market", comments Tobias Schneider, a consultant at Finaccord.
Finaccord has developed a standardised analysis of expatriates worldwide that provides a consistent segmentation.
According to this analysis, the majority of expatriates in 2013 were classifiable as individual workers (73.6%) followed by students (8.8%), retired expatriates (3.7%) and corporate transferees (1.0%), with the balance of other expatriates (defined as non-employed spouses and children) making up the residual 12.8%."
Across 30 important inbound countries investigated (i.e. destination countries for expatriates), Saudi Arabia hosted the largest number of expatriates in 2013, followed by the UAE and the US, while the smallest expatriate population was resident in Poland, followed by Portugal and Sweden.
"The number of expatriates in the GCC states - mainly individual workers from Asian countries - has increased at an enormous pace in recent years as these economies are heavily dependent on the inflow of foreign workers", concluded Schneider.
"In contrast, in other countries such as the UK and the US international students constitute a comparatively large proportion of the total expatriate population whilst Spain still attracts many retired expatriates, although this number has itself fallen since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008."